Going Beneath the Surface on Car Park Waterproofing

By providing convenient access to shops, bars, restaurants and other leisure-related places of interest, public and privately-owned car parks help oil the wheels of the urban economy. Therefore, it’s vital these sites are in the best possible state of repair in order to remain operational and help maintain town and city centre trade. Exposed car park surfaces are at the daily mercy of the elements, as well as heavy, motorised traffic, which is a potential cause of waterproofing failure if not addressed at an early stage. Mohammed Ashfaq, Senior Sales Manager at Sika, looks at the challenges involved with car park refurbishment in a ‘live’ environment to ensure sites stay safe and ingress-free.


Such is their importance to town and city centres; car park repairs need to be carried out in as short a time as possible. No project is the same, but common situations occur that need to be regularly overcome.

For example, contractors find store managers are often reticent to surrender parking spaces and run the risk of inconveniencing customers. Disgruntled shoppers will take their trade elsewhere if disrupted even for a short time and once lost; they can be very difficult to win back. It’s understandable, therefore, that store managers are keen to keep as much of their car park open as possible during refurbishment.

Managing the flow

For the contractor, a part-open car park means employing the highest-possible health and safety standards to ensure public wellbeing is maintained during working times. This can involve introducing a traffic management system to ensure vehicle flows are managed for the safety of customers and on-site teams alike. Providing clear instructions and signage to indicate works are being carried out is an important part of the safety programme. Temporary site fencing and barriers are also required to keep the workforce safe in the ‘live site’.

Car park refurbishment requires contractors to be mindful of the surrounding environment at all times, which means restricting noise levels to a minimum. When this isn’t possible – due to the number of materials and machinery involved, noise is an unavoidable byproduct in concrete repair and waterproofing projects – out-of-trade-hours working is essential.

Having mentioned the importance of delivering waterproofing projects in a time-effective manner without compromise to the installation’s quality, the use of rapid-curing materials is paramount, particularly when car parks are open to the elements and poor weather can hamper a project’s progress. Sika has a range of quick-setting waterproofing systems suitable for a variety of car park applications, such as top decks and exposed areas, intermediate decks, ground-bearing slabs and ramps.

One of the company’s latest innovations – Sika FloorJoint PDRS – for instance, provides car parks with an integral rubber seal that reduces mechanical vibration and the potential for cracking and ingress when used in decks and ramps. Suitable for vertical and horizontal movements, Sika FloorJoint PDRS is simple to install and trafficable after 24 hours, thus significantly reducing a site’s operational downtime.

Honesty pays

In terms of installation, clear lines of communication are essential to the successful completion of a car park repair and waterproofing project to an agreed timeframe. Clients and those nearby affected by work being carried out should be updated at all times as to how it’s progressing. In some cases, it may mean managing expectations, giving an honest assessment on completion times of different phases of the project.

The answer a contractor gives won’t necessarily be the one someone wants to hear, but better to give a realistic estimation than one designed to make them popular. Such a response can add unnecessary pressure to an already challenging installation.

Material wealth

Sika has spent many years working alongside contractors on live refurbishment car park projects, and during such time, the formula to waterproofing success has remained unchanged: get the basics right. This means phasing the work in the right order, managing traffic flows safely and efficiently, and keeping clear and open lines of communication at all times. Not forgetting, of course, the importance of specifying the right materials to ensure the flooring itself remains durable and watertight throughout its lifespan. Sika has a proven range of products to satisfy such a requirement, with our expert teams on hand to guide customers through every stage of the refurbishment – from specification to installation and beyond.

Case study: Meadows retail short stay MSCP, Chelmsford

Sika, in conjunction with Cemplas Waterproofing and Concrete Repairs, delivered a rapid-cure surface to provide Meadows multi-storey car park in Chelmsford with watertight protection in just seven weeks.

The city centre site was in need of an urgent upgrade due to time and the elements taking their toll on concrete surfaces throughout the building, leading to water ingress in areas. The client, Chelmsford City Council, required a waterproofing solution that not only offered the ultimate watertight protection, but its rapid-install properties were also essential to ensuring the project was completed in good time in order to minimise driver disruption. Sika had the ideal solution.

All concrete repairs, deck waterproofing, movement joints and line-marking at the 391-space car park was carried out by Cemplas Waterproofing and Concrete Repairs – a Sika-accredited car park specialist contractor. As members of the scheme, Cemplas is able to provide the client with a dual guarantee – that the products specified will perform to the highest standards and the installers applying them have met the requisite standards of workmanship and have an excellent track record in supplying Sika car park systems.

For the Meadows refurbishment, following surface preparation and repairs, Sika Ferrogard-903+, a surface-applied, multi-functional liquid corrosion inhibitor was applied to all 7200m2 of internal decks. This preceded the application of Sikafloor-18 Pronto, a high-performance, rapid-curing deck waterproofing system. Sikagard-550 W Elastic, a plasto-elastic, anti-carbonation coating, was applied to approximately 15,000m2 of concrete soffits and beams and columns to dramatically transform the car park’s internal appearance. The existing asphalt rooftop, which totalled 1800m2 in area, was re-waterproofed. This was installed directly onto the existing asphalt layer.

Completed within the client’s seven-week deadline, the refurbished Meadows multi-storey car park will provide long-standing testimony to a perfect match: Sika’s superb waterproofing systems and Cemplas’ outstanding workmanship.

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